Both moderate and strenuous exercise alleviate symptoms of anxiety, even when the disorder is chronic, a study led by researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, shows.
The study, published in the 'Journal of Affective Disorders', is based on 286 anxiety syndrome patients, recruited from primary care services in Gothenburg, Sweden's second-largest city after the capital Stockholm, and the northern part of Halland County.
Half of the patients had lived with anxiety for at least ten years. Their average age was 39 and 70 per cent were women.
For those who exercised at relatively low intensity, the chance of improvement in terms of anxiety symptoms rose by a factor of 3.62.Most individuals in the treatment groups went from a baseline level of moderate to high anxiety to a low anxiety level after the 12-week programme.
For those who exercised at relatively low intensity, the chance of improvement in terms of anxiety symptoms rose by a factor of 3.62.
The corresponding factor for those who exercised at higher intensity was 4.88.
"There was a significant intensity trend towards improvement -- that is, the more intensely they exercised, the more their anxiety symptoms improved," said Malin Henriksson, the study's first author, who is a doctoral student at the University of Gothenburg's Sahlgrenska Academy, and a specialist in general medicine in the Halland Region.